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Showing posts from April, 2012

French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman

Parental advice should always come with a warning along the lines of the Phillip Larkin poem with the swearing, because one parental expert's advice is another's anathema. In my case, all parental advice is anathema to me, as I'm a trial-and-error kind of guy and frankly your children are all horrible little brats so why should I listen to you?


Oddly enough, though, I didn't hate this book. That's probably because it's written by an American who finds out that Americans don't know everything there ever was to know about raising children who over-achieve and are models of societal perfection. Entertainment enough, one might think, but she is also married to a Brit, one who likes Dutch football. Not in and of itself interesting, but I don't think he gets enough credit throughout - Simon, we salute you!


Back to the book, and we laugh as our heroine Pamela falls foul of the many pitfalls awaiting ex-pat Anglophones in France, often and repeatedly, but smile b…

Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll

Fans of Neil Gaiman beware – I just might compare these two authors at some point in this review, as what they write shares a feeling for the magic inherent in daily life. One finds Carroll* dwelling in some rather splendid fictional landscapes at times, and it’s only the merest pin-prick away via the thin veneer of supposed reality. When I need a dose of magic realism that doesn't involve sleeping with whores, being in a Latin American country or incurring the wrath of an imam, Carroll and Gaiman are the two to which I would most regularly turn.

In this, an early work, the narrative is centred on a woman with the unlikely name of Cullen, who as a discombobulated young person has an abortion which she both regrets and is relieved to have had. She inhabits two different realms, one “real” and one a dream-scape; one where she finds unconditional love and peace with the man she should have been with originally; and one where she is guiding a small child named Pepsi through a land towa…

Robert Mitchum: Baby, I Don't Care by Lee Server

Guilt appears to play a major role in the selection of my next read. In lots of recent decisions it has been pretty evident, and it is intriguing that one should feel guilty about buying (or possessing) a copy of a book without having read it. In my case, I suspect, it’s because I’m a big old mess of guilt, stemming from a child-like disbelief that I appear to have gotten away with “it” for nearly 34 years. What “it” may be is open for debate.
Nevertheless, I guilt-tripped myself into finally reading this stupendously thick biography of icon Robert Mitchum by the ever studious Lee Server and am endlessly glad I did. Despite the impact it had on my relationship (it appears that the subsequent and repeated renting of black and white Mitchum vehicles on my wife’s dime is an act with internecine repercussions) I literally rushed home from work at lunch times to cram in another paragraph between mouthfuls of cous-cous salad, dog-releasing-into-the-garden-to-prevent-damage-to-property and wa…

The Rogue by Joe McGinniss

I don’t remember why it was I’d asked for a copy for Christmas, but a copy I received and very grateful I was. It took me a while to work up to it, but post-Jonathan Carroll I felt the need to connect to something more contemporaneous so it got the nod. In the interim I had heard diddly squat about it, critical, positive or anecdotal. In itself, that may be nothing unusual as I wasn’t looking for anything, but in attempting to find a picture of my edition to use on the blog, I discovered that Crown had cancelled a UK paperback edition: strange or not? I considered the possible reasons (chiefly among them the likelihood that an update was due following announcements or developments, news of which I had not heard either) but was concerned that one might be that it was one-sided, trash-talking, anti-Palin hyperbole from a man of whom I knew only from his charming book on life at a minor Italian football club.*

Of course, fears were allayed once I’d actually started to read it.
The over re…